Meatballs were always a favorite growing up. After losing my mother in high school, I so clearly remember being her sous chef during childhood, and getting my hands dirty in the kitchen. I remember the texture and smells of the raw onion and Italian seasonings even to this day!
When I started thinking about my own version of vegetarian meatballs I wanted to replicate those memories. My first attempt used lentils for a good protein source, but the "meatballs" came out shapeless and too gooey before baking and then too dry on the outside afterward; they reminded me of a delicious falafel, but not a meaty meatball.
In doing some research I noticed many vegetarian meatball versions with chickpeas and thought, why not? I used soy sauce and tomato paste for a sweet and savory flavor, and decided to use raw onion since it was so similar to my mother’s recipe.
These vegetarian meatballs are excellent as a sandwich filling, a bite-size snack and on top of pasta. They pack in only 45 calories with 2 grams each protein and fiber per meatball. This recipe makes up to 20 meatballs that can be refrigerated for up to four days and frozen for three months.
I hope these healthy, vegetarian meatballs satisfy your cravings!
Vegetarian Chickpea Meatballs
Makes 18-20 small meatballs; serving size: 4-5 meatballs
- 1 15-ounce can drained and rinsed chickpeas
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ cup frozen spinach
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, optional
- ¼ to ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 large egg
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Set aside an oiled or non-stick cookie sheet.
- Combine all ingredients except egg in a food processor. Once combined, adjust seasonings to taste.
- Add egg and pulse until thoroughly blended.
- Use hands or a cookie scooper to form small meatballs, about 1-inch in diameter, and place on pan.
- Bake 30 to 35 minutes, flipping after 15 to 20 minutes for even browning. Remove from oven and enjoy!